Letters from Tajikistan

Loki continues his talk about exhibition “Winter” that will be presented at the Central Asian Pavilion at the 55th Venice Bien­nale of contemporary art this year. This time he has met the authors of the artists work from Tajikistan

Loki continues his talk about exhibition “Winter”  that will be  presented at the Central Asian Pavilion at the 55th Venice Bien­nale of contemporary art this year. This time he has met the authors of the artists work from Tajikistan

I have already written about the Central Asian Pavilion at the 55th Venice Bien­nale of contemporary art that will take place on June, 2013. Specifically I have told about the  presentation of the pavilion that took place On February 20th, 2013 in Almaty (Kazakhstan)

As I have previously promised that will tell about the artistic work of the Tajik artist. The work will be part of the Central-Asian Pavilion.

I have visited Anton Rodin and Sergey Chutkov, the authors of the project called Letters from Tajikistan. I asked the guys to tell about their project.

Anton, could you please tell me about your artistic project?

Anton: The project “Letters from Tajikistan” is designed to explore realities of central Asia through different people’s prospective.

This project creates an interactive textual space, both printed and virtual. It is based on the texts written by different people on the topics that are relevant to them. The style for letters required personality, confidentiality and sincerity. These letters represent a method of interpretation and analysis of a situation and building a network of meanings. When reading them, audience can juxtapose authors’ attitude towards the key notions, repeated on most of the letters.

The book-collection “Letters from Tajikistan” which we plan to publish will consist of letters written by different people from different social, cultural backgrounds and generations. While compiling the book we will strive to present the most typical views and select their most powerful manifestations.

The online version of the Letters from Tajikistan can be a platform for dialogue of different social strata, generations, and ideologies. At the present, the internet community “Letters from Tajikistan” is a means of communicating with the project authors and collecting materials.

Let us summarize the idea behind the project and how it works in a few words.

We feel concern about Tajikistan where several parallel ideological realities coexist. They are traditional conservative community, post-Soviet culture, Europeanized liberal community and Muslim community. Besides these large social structures there are smaller communities that affect our lives. The problem is that there is no constructive dialogue between these spheres and the gaps between them are getting more and more obvious: in the situation of economic and social insecurity, underestimation of potential threats, sooner or later will result in a range of conflicts.

In order to change this situation and find solutions we want to identify shared points for the prevailing ideologies and differences in perception of the key notions. The notions are identified as we collect the material, but we already envision that some of them will be war, peace, stability, family, future, work, faith etc.

Information appears therefore it disappears. Information appears in certain places which can be localized, therefore we can find places where it disappears. It looks like black holes where meanings disappear. Analyzing them, we discover an interesting consistency. Any kind of conductor loses some portion of energy, every time information is reproduced or interpreted… In any kind of wires, any kind of communication.  Meaning can be lost in any instance that involve information.

At the exhibition we will present a room that will be covered with texts of the letter from Tajikistan. They will be hanging on the walls, lying on the floor. The audience members can take them with. The closed space full of messages of unknown people that reflect topics relevant to all designed to render the energy in the region. People in the region mainly speak the same language and discuss similar issues. But see these issues from different prospective thereby making a common goal of this movement invisible.

The text, full of different meanings symbolizes an attempt to explore the situation, accept it and analyze it through trying to find both negative and positive aspects of the dialogues between people, cultures, generations and languages all the letters are united within one search for a meaning.

Sergey, could you tell please how have you come to the idea of your project, and where is the link of the project with the concept of the curators of the pavilion Ayatgali Tuleubek and Tiago Bom. Where is the link between curators’ metaphor that is created on  Abai’s poem “Winter”?   

Sergey: We are concerned about the situation in our country. Haven taken the path of people with critical ideas we are constantly full of intention to criticize our own thoughts and steps as well as things that are happening around. This coldness and ruthlessness in our community hurts us because the Winter portrayed in Abai’s poem is about to take stage, if not taken it already. The problems cross all the levels of social and public life in Tajikistan. People with different cultural, ethnic, social, religious backgrounds and generations share the same space – physical and ideological but are isolated and do not understand each other. They do not communicate with people beyond their usual circles; they simply don’t want to hear them. Or aren’t they even trying to hear their voices? Or maybe we just don’t understand them?

These questions reflect our aspiration to understand and comprehend ideas and intentions of people around us (people who do not have access to public platforms of discussions). We want to create a platform for mutual understanding. We are creating it for various social strata. We made it for ourselves.

What and how people different from us are thinking about? What is the cause of the things that are happening? Is it about the way we think? Even if we use the same notions of everyday life, why do we still fail to understand one another? Where is the borderline separating the end of a dialogue and beginning of stone fight? For us, this is a research project, investigating links between the ideas that people stand for and how these ideas get corrupted or misinterpreted in the process of communication.

In the meantime, for us this project is about reflecting on the situation in Tajikistan.  We made every effort to avoid any degree of subjectivity in this reflection and offer the project participants to write on any matter they think is important. So they are invited to write letters from Tajikistan. An important part of this research is in exploring religious radicalization that is manifested as an effect of social segregation, bad access and quality of education and no social services for people. We aspire to understand what will be the outcomes of this situation. Will they be similar to the events in Iran in 1978-79? What role people of Tajikistan play in this dynamic? We, you, people around us?

It is also crucial that we understand suitability of that small action, intellectual resistance and discourses taken by the citizenry. What are we, supposed to do and how are we supposed to live as citizens, common people, artists? What should we do? Take action or wait for the winter to come to an end, hoping that the end of the winter will give us…


Thanks the guys for the interesting conversations. I would add that more information (also in English) about the project Letter from Tajikistan you may find at the official page of the project in Facebook. There you may also talk to the authors of the project. Write letters ladies and gentlemen!


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